WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up "The Dasha Derby" - UBITENNIS
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WTA Charleston: No. 1 Seed Madison Keys Upset By Shelby Rogers; Kasatkina and Gavrilova Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

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Hometown Girl Shelby Rogers Upsets 1st Seed Madison Keys

 

World No. 11 Madison Keys started the match in very unconvincing fashion, going down a double break in the first set. At 0-3, Keys started to push Rogers further behind the baseline, and got more consistent on serve. This helped her turn the set around and take the first 6-4. After getting the first game of the second set, Keys lost the next 11 games in a row, a sight rarely seen, putting her at 6-4 1-6 0-5. This was not only caused by Keys starting to perform poorly on serve, but especially Rogers becoming more aggressive, exposing the angles. Keys took one break back before losing 6-4 1-6 1-6 in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Keys made 7 double faults and won only 21% of points after 2nd serve, showing that she is still far from the level she was at before her injury. Shelby Rogers will face Naomi Osaka next in the Round of 16.

Daria Kasatkina and Daria Gavrilova Advance, Set Up “The Dasha Derby”

This was the third meeting between the WTA Rising Stars Daria Kasatkina and Monica Puig, and just like the previous two, it was a three set battle. It didn’t seem like that in the beginning, as Puig lost the first set 0-6, winning only 1 point on her serve. In the second set, the gold medalist from Rio started to fight back and find her game, which resulted in Puig winning the second set 7-6(3). The final set was more even than suggested by the score, with Kasatkina managing to find the extra bit of energy to push her to win almost every game. When serving to stay in the match at 2-5, nerves got to Puig, and after two lost rallies and a double fault, she was down 0-40. However, the Puerto Rican got really aggressive and saved 3 match points, before finally falling after 2 hours and 1 minute, 0-6 7-6(3) 2-6. Despite beating the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber twice already in 2017, Kasatkina hasn’t had an ideal start to the year. She was actually coming into Charleston with a 4 match losing streak. The Russian is now through to the Round of 16, just one match away from defending her quarterfinal run from last year in Charleston.

Kasatkina’s opponent in Round of 16 will be her good friend and 9th seed Daria Gavrilova. The Australian swept past American Alison Riske 6-3 6-1 in just an hour and 6 minutes. Despite a heavily taped right thigh, Gavrilova was moving well and her return game was on point, winning 65% of all points on return. Gavrilova has to hope for a solid result in Charleston, as she has to defend Quarterfinals in Madrid and Round of 16 in Madrid. On the bright side, the Australian made a first round exit at Roland Garros last year, giving her a chance to increase her ranking with a solid run in Paris, perhaps break Top 20. Head-to-head between Kasatkina and Gavrilova is 1-0 for the Russian, winning their only meeting at the 2015 US Open, Kasatkina’s breakout run.

Resurgent Rodionova Marches On

34 year-old Anastasia Rodionova is now through to the Round of 16, defeating former World No, 5 and 2012 Roland Garros finalist Sara Errani 6-2 6-2. Rodionova managed to just hit through Errani, who is currently struggling and outside the Top 100. This is the Australian’s 4th win in a row, not even losing a set yet in Charleston. Rodionova’s next opponent will either be World No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki or Annika Beck. In the live rankings, Rodionova is at No. 349, meaning that she will move up 320 spots in the rankings if she loses in the 3rd Round. If she will win, Rodionova will be back to Top 300.

Overshadowed Upsets

Other than the No. 1 seed Madison Keys and Venus’ loss to Siegemund, two other seeds lost today. 13th Shuai Zhang didn’t manage to hold off the sheer firepower of Naomi Osaka, even on clay. The Japanese player won 6-4 6-4, and will play Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarterfinals .

4th seed and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina will not defend her final at the Volvo Car Open, as she makes a 2nd Round exit to Hungarian qualifier Fanny Stollar. This is the biggest win of her career so far for the 18 year-old, beating the World No. 13. 13 is also the number of aces Stollar fired off in this straight set win. Despite failing to serve out the match twice, Stollar managed to regroup and win the match 7-6(7) 7-6(3). The talented Hungarian will next face Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

Remaining Results

5 seeds advanced to the second round, 4 of them in straight sets. 10th seed Irina-Camelia Begu was the odd one out, battling past Kristina Kucova 4-6 6-2 7-6(6) after 2 hours and 29 minutes. The Romanian will face Samantha Stosur next.

7th seed Kiki Bertens was the highest seed that advanced today, defeating Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2 7-5. Bertens will need to take advantage of the lack of favorites and get as far as possible, since she has to defend a staggering 1218 points. 11th seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni is continuing to have an incredible year, now through to the Round of 16, where Bertens and Lucic-Baroni will face off.

15th seed Lucie Safarova beat her doubles partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3 6-3. The Czech will be next tested by Laura Siegemund,. 8th seed Anastasija Sevastova defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-4. After the match, the German informed her fans on Twitter that she suffered a knee injury in the match. She wrote that she will get an MRI and have more information soon. Petkovic is a well-liked player, but she has been going through a rough patch results-wise, so let’s hope that this will not be a career-ending injury.

Sevastova’s next opponent will be the Tunisian lucky loser Ons Jabeur, who actually didn’t win a match in qualifying, as she received a walkover and then lost to Asia Muhammad. In the main draw, however, Jabeur already beat Erakovic and Linette in straight sets. Jelena Ostapenko is the other Latvian in the Round of 16, beating Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-2.

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Bianca Andreescu Reunites With Former Coach Ahead Of New Season 

How will the Grand Slam champion fair on the Tour with her latest mentor?

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BIANCA ANDREESCU OF CANADA - PHOTO: ALBERTO NEVADO / MMO

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has brought a familiar face back into her team as she bids to return to her best form in 2023. 

 

Andreescu, who is currently ranked 45th in the WTA rankings, has appointed Christophe Lambert as her latest coach. Lambert had been working as the performance director at Tennis New Zealand and resigned from that position to work with the former US Open champion. He had also previously worked for Tennis Canada and during that time he was a private coach for Andreescu in 2016. 

“Bianca asked me to coach her and I accepted the job. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Lambert told sport.co.nz. 

Lambert, who has also spent time working with the Chinese Davis Cup team and for the British LTA, has stayed in contact with Andreescu ever since coaching her six years ago. 

“It wasn’t like every week or every month. It’s always good to have people calling you when you are up, but when she was down I was checking on her and giving her my opinion.” He said. 

Andreescu had been working with Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld for over a year before they decided to end their collaboration in October. Groeneveld has a wealth of experience in the sport after working with a series of top names, including Maria Sharapova. 

This season the former world No.4 has won 20 out of 33 matches played with her best performance being a run to the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany. However, her record against top 10 opposition was 2-5.

“I’m just taking it day by day, and it’s a great way to end off the year as well, just bringing back all the emotions that fire a lot in me,” Andreescu recently told reporters in Glasgow at the Billie Jean King Cup. “I think I’m going to have a great preseason. Next year I really think I can crack the top 10 again.”

Andreescu, who has been hampered by injury issues in recent years, hasn’t won a singles title of any sort since 2019. 

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Four-Time Grand Slam Winner Naomi Osaka Named In FTX Lawsuit 

The former world No.1 took an equity stake in the failed business earlier this year. 

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NAOMI OSAKA OF JAPAN - PHOTO: ALVARO DIAZ / MMO

Naomi Osaka is among a series of high-profile individuals who have been accused of using their celebrity status to promote FTX’s failed business model in a lawsuit filed against the cryptocurrency exchange. 

 

The BBC has reported that over one million people and businesses could be owed money following the collapse of FTX, according to bankruptcy filings. A week ago FTX collapsed into bankruptcy with its former boss Sam Bankman-Fried stepping down as CEO. A massive development in the financial for what was one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world that had the naming rights to a Formula One racing team as well as a sports arena in Miami.

According to the Associated Press, the company is being investigated by state and federal prosecutors over allegations it ‘invested depositors’ funds in ventures without their approval.’ In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, it argues that celebrity backers of FTX such as Osaka should be held just as accountable as Bankman-Fried as they brought ‘instant credibility’ to the company. 

“Part of the scheme employed by the FTX Entities involved utilizing some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment — like these Defendants — to raise funds and drive American consumers to invest … pouring billions of dollars into the deceptive FTX platform to keep the whole scheme afloat,” the lawsuit said.

Osaka took an equity stake in FTX in March where she would be receiving compensation in Crypto. Signing what was described as a ‘long-term partnership’ to become a global ambassador, the tennis star aimed to draw attention to women joining the platform and she played a role in directing its content.

“We have seen the statistics about how few women are part of crypto by comparison, which kind of mirrors the inequality we see in other financial markets,” Osaka said earlier this year.

Osaka, who has won 14 out of 23 matches played this season, has not made any public statement regarding the lawsuit. NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and basketball team the Golden State Warriors are also defendants in the lawsuit.

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WTA Targets New Multi-Year Deal For Its Premier Event If Agreement With China Fails

Will the WTA Finals return to Shenzhen in 2023?

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WTA CEO Steve Simon

The WTA say they are not willing to compromise their principles concerning the possibility of hosting tournaments in China next year amid uncertainty over the future of their season-ending event. 

 

Steve Simon, who is the CEO of the women’s Tour, says he is hopeful that a resolution can be found with the country but has vowed now to back down on its stance. Last year the WTA suspended tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of former player Peng Shuai who accused a former government official of sexually assaulting her. 

Shuai disappeared shortly after posting her statement on social media before returning a few weeks later with photos and videos of her being posted online by journalists linked to the government-controlled media. There are concerns that the former doubles Grand Slam champion, who has not left her country since making those allegations, is being censored by the government. The WTA wants an investigation to be conducted into the matter. 

“We’ve made a strong stand, and we stand behind that stance, and we’re not going to compromise our principles,” Simon said during an interview with The New York Times. “Clearly when we did it, we understood eyes wide open what it could mean.”
“We’re still in the same place. If they come forward with something else we should look at, of course we are open to it. But we haven’t seen it so far. I’m hopeful we do find a resolution. That’s the goal, to find the right resolution. What’s the truth? Then we can move forward.” He added. 

Simon said he is confident that Shuai is safe in Beijing but he has not been able to make any direct contact with her, despite trying to on multiple occasions. A letter reportedly written by Shuai to the WTA was posted online in 2021 saying that she wishes to be left alone. However, many have doubted the authenticity of that letter with some fearing that she wrote it under duress. 

One of the biggest impacts of the fallout has involved the prestigious WTA Finals, which is a round-robin tournament featuring the eight best-performing players over the past 12 months. In 2018 a lucrative deal was agreed that paved the way for the event to be held in Shenzhen for 10 years. However, the event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the next two additions were moved elsewhere.

Whilst the WTA is optimistic about a return to Shenzhen in 2023, there are also backup plans in the works. Simon confirmed that it is no longer feasible for the WTA Finals to be held in a location for just one year. So it is likely that the tournament would be held in a city for two or more years in a row if it doesn’t return to China next season. 

“We’re not going to continue to do these one-year decisions,” he said. “It’s not sustainable. If it looks like we can’t go back to China or aren’t ready to go back, then I do think we will carve out a multiyear situation, because we need to for the business.”

The case involving Shuai isn’t the only barrier for the WTA. China’s zero-covid policy has made hosting international events in the region unfeasible and the ATP cancelled all of their events in the tournament this year due to the situation. 

This year’s WTA Finals has a prize money offering of $5M which is more than half of what was on offer at the 2019 tournament in Shenzhen ($14M). 

Simon didn’t provide any deadline for when an agreement must be reached with China must be reached before the WTA considers moving their event elsewhere once again. 

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